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2003 Elizabethtown College
The Elizabethtown College women's lacrosse program is in just its second year of existence, and new head coach Aimee Seward is impressed with what she has found in this team. Last year, the Blue Jays, consisting almost entirely of freshmen and possessing no previous collegiate lacrosse experience, not even as a club team, finished 4-10 overall and 2-6 in the Middle Atlantic Conference. Four of the losses came by margins of three goals or less. There was a general perception last year that, "For a first year program, they were doing very, very well," observed Seward, who was an assistant at Gettysburg at the time.
This year, the task at hand is to build upon the strong foundation begun in 2002. Helping Seward in this task is a tendency she noticed immediately, "They are very enthusiastic and really eager to learn. And everybody on the team is like that."
Most of the team's experience, she noted, is centered in the attack. The Blue Jays return first team All-Commonwealth Conference attacker Liz Fretz (Parkerford, PA/Owen J. Roberts), who finished second in the MAC with 60 goals and fourth in the conference with 68 points. Also back is attack wing Jen Manns (Wilmington, DE/Brandywine), who scored 31 goals and finished ninth in the MAC in goals per game, compiled 20 assists and finished eighth in the conference in assists per game, and totaled 51 points to finish ninth in the conference in points per game. Additionally, Seward expects midfielder Ally Edel (Bel Air, MD/John Carroll School), who had 10 goals, 10 assists and 20 points last year, to emerge as one of the team's top offensive producers as well.
At this point, Edel and sophomore defenders Sara Scholl (Forest Hill, MD/John Carroll School) and Stephanie Boyle (Folsom, PA/Ridley) seem to have emerged as the team's principal leaders.
There are also quite a few incoming freshmen who could make sizeable impacts on the team's fortunes this year, most notably attacker Meghen Riegger (Phoenix, MD/Catholic H.S. of Baltimore), midfielder Danielle Grooms (Frederick, MD/Gov. Thomas Johnson), and defenders Michelle Collier (Plymouth Meeting, PA/Plymouth Whitemarsh) and Leah Robinson (Huntingtown, MD/Calvert).
Seward has identified one of this team's main strengths as being its "strong attackers who are good at driving one-v.-one." She was quick to add, though, "They are still figuring out defense and transition," especially due to the fact that outdoor practice time during the preseason has been drastically limited due to the persistent snow cover that has plagued the Northeast. Seward has also said, "I try to get kids to discover answers by themselves." With a team as young as Elizabethtown, she has noted there is a need to improve the on-field improvisation she describes as "freelancing."
There are some question marks on defense as well, most notably in the goal. This fall, the team did not actually have a goaltender on the roster. Enter Lisa Marquette (Lebanon, PA/Cedar Crest), the highly successful sophomore goaltender of the field hockey team who earned conference Player of the Week honors this fall. The addition of Marquette to the team has brought a great deal of stability to the defense, and, being an expert goaltender in field hockey, she already knows how to do things like take away angles for shots and break up plays in front of the goal.
That said, Marquette hails from Lebanon County, Pa., a region where lacrosse is as yet essentially non-existent. "She never saw lacrosse before," remarked Seward, meaning that the new goalie is currently getting a crash-course in learning the game and dealing with high airborne shots and a netted stick. How quickly Marquette adjusts to the game will make a strong impact on the team's defense.
This year, Elizabethtown's goal is to finish in the top four teams in the conference, thereby earning a postseason berth in the MAC playoffs. More importantly, Seward emphasizes, especially with such a young team, is to take things one game at a time and improve every day. If those smaller goals are pursued successfully, the team's larger goals may well fall into place.